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Katherine Donnelly | 05.22.2018

The capital of New Hampshire and one of the larger hubs within New England, Concord is a small city with a big personality. Located centrally to some of the Northeast's best outdoor recreation, including the White Mountains to the north and the Atlantic coast to the east, this town is a great destination to add to your bucket list if you're looking for some summer adventure - especially if you are a fan of exploring the outdoors by foot.

Whether you're in town for business or on vacation with the family, the best part is that you don't have to go far to get to the good stuff. The trails here are plentiful, and with a wide range of terrain, there is sure to be a hike fit for your trip. 

Starting close to Concord and working out from there, here are 10 of our favorite hikes:

1. Manchester Cedar Swamp 

While the name may not have you dreaming of hiking, this is a white cedar and giant rhododendron swamp that was preserved by The Nature Conservancy in 2001 and now encompasses 642 acres. Within the preserve you can explore 1.8 miles of trails that will bring you through a unique habitat that provides cover for deer, breeding grounds for frogs, and nesting areas for birds. Expect a 20-minute drive.

2. Hedgehog Ledge Trail, Bear Brook State Park 

Located in one of New Hampshire's largest state parks, Hedgehog Ledge Trail is an easy to moderate trail that is a great option for families or those looking for more of a mellow hike with little elevation gain. Enjoy varied terrain, boulder fields, lush greenery, rock walls, and a meandering brook. And you'll even have a chance to spot some of the native porcupines along the route. Expect a 25-minute drive.

3. Catamount Trail, Bear Brook State Park 

At 3.4 miles long and with just over 600 feet of elevation gain, Catamount Trail is an incredible opportunity for a shorter loop hike that delivers big on the views near the top. In our opinion, this is the best outlook in Bear Brook State Park. There are sections of the trail that are quite steep, and like many New England trails one should be prepared for rocky sections. Expect a 25-minute drive.

4. South Mountain Hike, Pawtuckaway State Park 

Pawtuckaway State Park has an abundance of wildlife and diverse in ecosystems, and the park offers a range of scenery and recreational opportunities. For the best views in the park, we highly recommend hiking the 5-mile trail to the 1915 fire tower on South Mountain. Plus, this is a kid- and dog-friendly route, so the whole family can join in! Expect a 40-minute drive. 

5. Mount Kearsarge 

Mount Kearsarge is the perfect hike for beginners and children in Rollins State Park and offers a big reward at the top once you reach the exposed bedrock and fire tower, where you will enjoy views of Mount Cardigan, Mount Sunapee, Mount Monadnock, and more. You don’t even have to step out of your car to enjoy a scenic view, and a picnic area near the parking lot offers a fantastic spot to have lunch before or after your hike. Expect a 45-minute drive.

6. Mount Major Loop 

Mount Major rises up on the south side of Lake Winnipesaukee and is part of the Belknap Range. Mount Major’s panoramic views are among the best in the area, and from the top visitors will look out over the gorgeous Lakes Region of the Granite State. This is a popular hike for families and beginners, though some will still find it to be a moderately strenuous hike due to some steep grades along the way. Expect a 50-minute drive.

7. Pitcher Mountain 

Yet another fire tower hike to add to your list, and with this one comes interstate views of New Hampshire's beautiful mountains and neighboring Vermont and Massachusetts. Choose between a loop hike of 0.7 miles or an out-and-back hike on either trail to the 2,153-foot summit. Expect a 50-minute drive.

8. Lake Solitude via Summit Trail 

While there are multiple options for reaching Lake Solitude, it’s hard to beat the trail over Mount Sunapee and White Ledges. After a fairly easy mile you’ll reach White Ledges, which offer a great view overlooking Lake Solitude. In just under 2 miles you’ll reach the summit of Mount Sunapee before continuing over the summit, and be sure to take in the fantastic view of Lake Sunapee before dipping back into the woods. Expect a 50-minute drive.

9. The Narrows Trail, Pillsbury State Park 

Pillsbury State Park is the perfect place to get away from it all, relax with the family, and explore some of the most scenic ponds around. The Narrows Trail is a must-see when in the area, and it is great for kids of all ages. This short trail offers an interpretive guide to help you identify your surroundings and leads to a view across Butterfield Pond. Look for black spruce, rhodora azalea, lowbush blueberry, and wintergreen along the way. Expect a 50-minute drive.

10. Purgatory Falls Hike

Lower Purgatory Falls is a fantastic family-friendly hike due to its short half-mile length and wide, well-established footpath. This popular trail starts from a small parking area and continues on easy terrain to the approximately 12-foot falls, where you have the option to continue on for more waterfalls 3 miles up trail. Expect a 55-minute drive.

While this definitely isn't a complete list of all of the great hikes in and near the city of Concord, it will definitely get you started in the right direction. We would love to hear what your favorite local trails are in this region, so please comment below with photos and recommendations to add in!


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